Antioch Council moves up induction ceremony for new mayor, council members to December 4

Update: 11/30/12 6:20 p.m.

New council will decide how to fill Harper’s council seat

By Allen Payton, Publisher

The Oath of Office induction ceremony for Antioch’s new mayor and council members has been moved from Tuesday, December 11 to next Tuesday, December 4, by a decree signed by Mayor Jim Davis at this past Tuesday’s council meeting

The special council meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m., instead of the usual council meeting start time of 7:00 p.m., in the City Council Chambers, located at 3rd and H Streets in downtown Antioch.

UPDATE: When asked why the meeting date was changed and who made the decision, Davis said “[City Manager Jim] Jakel convinced us that the new council needed to be seated ASAP, for business on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday meetings.”

However, the fourth Tuesday in December is Christmas, so the council is considering holding meetings on either or both Wednesday and Thursday, December 26 and 27.

Mayor Pro Tem and Mayor-Elect Wade Harper responded “The swearing in was always planned for the 4th. I wasn’t aware of the time change until it was already posted. This created a little bit of a problem for me as I have invited guests and family.”

I think with outgoing speeches and a choir singing, there will be sufficient delay,” he added.

Councilman Gary Agopian stated the change in meeting date was for the reorganization of the council, the decision on how to fill Harper’s council seat – as he will step down to become Mayor – and to discuss the police pension issue.

Councilwoman Mary Rocha, who was re-elected earlier this month, and, as the top vote-getter, will be the city’s new Mayor Pro Tem, said she didn’t mind either way if the ceremony was held next Tuesday or on the 11th.

Newly elected City Clerk, Arne Simonsen stated “I don’t know why they are moving up the swearing-in to the first Tuesday at a special meeting.”

One challenge with scheduling the meeting on the 4th is that’s the day the County Elections Division will finalize the vote count and won’t have the election certified until 5 p.m., that same day. With the race between Monica Wilson and Davis currently separated by just 458 votes, or less than 1% of the vote, the final results could change who won the second council seat. So, it might be Davis being given the oath that night, instead.

At the meeting on Tuesday, December 4, the current council will first vote to accept the results of the election, then the ceremony will occur for Harper, Rocha, and currently Wilson, as well as re-elected City Treasurer Donna Conley. While the ceremony for Simonsen is scheduled for that night, he stated “I’m back on December 12 and being sworn in at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Decem 13th at city hall.”

Following next Tuesday’s ceremony, at the meeting the new council will vote in Rocha as the new Mayor Pro Tem, then decide how to fill Harper’s council seat for the remaining two years. They have three options: either make an appointment that night, approve an application process to fill the position by appointment or hold a special election on June 4, 2013 to fill the seat.

Past council practice has been to appoint the third-highest vote-getter in the most recent election to the vacancy. That would then mean either Davis or Wilson would be appointed, depending on who wins the second council seat and who places third in the election. However, that didn’t happen in 2008, when the council bypassed Simonsen, who was the third-highest vote-getter in that council election and appointed Martha Parsons, instead, who had not run for city council, prior.

Finally, the newly seated council, of either four or five members, will decide whether or not to rework the police pension benefit from the current 3% at age 55 for new hires, to 3% at 50 for hiring current police officers from other agencies, known as lateral hires.

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